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Marks & Spencer Company’s Integrated Marketing Communications

Introduction

Marks and Spencer is one of the most famous brands around the world, with its headquarters being in London – the retailer is counted amongst the most reliable and the most prestigious brand across the globe. This is originally a British brand; but has shops in around more than 30 countries. In total, it has approximately 840 outlets, with 600 being domestic and 285 being international. According to 2008 statistics, it is ranked 43rd largest retailer of the world. Marks and Spencer is not just an accessory retailer, it also has food retailer outlets.

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Their set up is such that they the food is sold within the clothing stores; that also increases sales because the hungry customers who get tired after shopping so much do not mind sitting down and grabbing a bite. Recently, it diverged into chains of household goods, furniture and technological items. Marks and Spencer sells different lines of goods – in clothing, it is further divided into men-wear, women-wear, kids-wear, wine, technology, per-una, food and homeware. Marks and Spencer further defines its brand by naming various lines, for example, St. Michael’s. St. Michael’s, however, was discontinued and ‘Optima’ came up as the face of Marks and Spencer.

Marks and Spencer works really hard on its marketing and establishing its brand – it did very long for this to happen and the brand to become stable. But it was not only the quality of the goods that made this possible; proper marketing strategies were used by them to make sure that the market share was being captured smartly.

Integrated Marketing Communication

Integrated Marketing Communication is a marketing phenomenon which basically focuses on a consistent message from the brand to the customers. To be elaborative, the marketing department here tries to make sure that all the marketing mediums that are used generally to reach to the audience all are aligned and following one path with a basic and core message that is the same. Meaning, that whatever medium one is using to reach the audience, should come across to be delivering one core message (Kotabe and Kristiaan; 2004).

Integrated Marketing Communication is a concept that states that whatever information provided through various mediums to the customers or potential customers should be consistent and relevant to them. In order to make sure that the message is consistent, the brand needs to coordinate and integrate its various communication channels so that resultant message put across to the customers is the same through all channels.

Integrated marketing communication involves identifying the target audience and shaping a well-coordinated communication program to obtain the desired audience response. Today marketers are moving towards viewing communication as managing the customer relationship overtime, therefore it is very important that the message is carefully integrated and it coordinates the company’s many communication channels to deliver a clear, consistent and compelling message about the organization and its products.

This is a recent marketing concept with a wide range approach and because it makes so much sense, it was widely acclaimed. The marketing strategy is formed by keeping the marketing mix in mind: the mix includes the 4 Ps of marketing that one needs to consider in order to promote the product well; Place, Product, Price and Promotion. The reason for this is that integrated marketing communication is not just a promotional concept; its part of the entire marketing plan. The reason is that it works by collaborating all marketing tools and coming together as a stronger and maximized affect on the customer (Bitner, 1995).

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Promotion, that is part of the marketing mix and the most connected to marketing, includes general advertisement and popularity of the product by TV ads, billboards, internet ads, print ads etc. Although, it further deepens down into Above the Line and Below the Line. So this does not only advertisement, it includes personal selling, sales promotions, discounts, direct marketing and even public relations. All these mediums are then to be connected and aligned in order to make a good integrated marketing communication scheme (Christ, 2008).

Analysis of Marks and Spencer’s Integrated Marketing Communication

Whatever marketing campaign Marks and Spencer has launched; it has always paid emphasis on the value of the customers’ money and what they offer to their customers should be worth its value. Their tagline was “Quality worth every penny” – this shows that they believe in believe high quality goods and providing customers with what they deserve. Also they mean to show that they are very fair and just by not taking undue money from the customers and believe in offering to the customers what they promise.

This idea makes a lot of sense and was a smart move because in the consumerist world of today, the customers are the king. Without them, the organization really does not stand anywhere. Customer satisfaction is the top most priority of every organization – if Marks and Spencer does not provide the customers with the value that they promise to, the customer will lose their trust in the brand and stop buying it. Customer value is seen as one of the most important things – unless the customer sees the value in a product, they would not want to buy it.

There has to be a competitive edge and something unique that the customer is getting. Also, producers need to make sure that the customer expectation is either met exactly or surpassed the level; or else, a disgruntled customer can be a major drawback. Expectation is the perceived value of the goods that the customer has; customer centered companies try to measure that but their own judgement and then work upon it to deliver well.

This brings us to the value proposition – this is how we differentiate our product and how we position it in the heads of the customers. This is the part where we can create our edge in. the companies that look for a value proposition and give it too much importance, are those that are customer centered. Therefore, Marks and Spencers also tried to gain the customer trust by an attractive and customer centered tagline “quality worth every penny”.

This campaign was launched at the 125th anniversary of Marks and Spencers. It is important for companies to launch campaigns on such huge birthdays of the brand and bringing the fact that the company is really old and experienced in notice of the customers. The reason for this is that the longer a brand has been in the market and successful more so, people trust it more because of such a long history of serving its customers.

Also, another reason for this general statement which was simple and very straightforward was because this anniversary was a huge deal for the entire brand and thus, they wanted all the lines and chains (food and clothing) to be united on this occasion and come across under the banner of the same brand. Thus, the statement was very general and relevant to both lines.

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This time, all the mediums were concentrating on the 125th anniversary concept – the store was decorated accordingly, the ads on TV mentioned the fact that the 125th anniversary is up and they have been providing quality worth every penny since then.

Their slogan/tagline was also changed to this one and all the mediums were putting across the same message. Also, their products were packaged slightly like that; they had shoppers that mentioned the 125th anniversary. They made it into a huge event and their look changed for a long enough time that was enough to promote their birthday and proving that they have been providing quality since a long time. This campaign was a good example of integrated marketing communication – all the tools and mediums were putting across the same quality worth every penny since 125 years message. It was also very nicely done and the campaign was well-appreciated.

Another one of their campaigns was about “doing the right thing”; this is about Marks and Spencer trying to fulfill its duty for the society by planning its corporate social responsibility campaign.

Corporate social responsibility is not exactly a new concept but recently, it has emerged greatly (Czepiel, 1990). This is about a corporate organization which is very business minded to pay back to the society what they took from in forms of negative and positive externalities. Companies usually do this to form a good image in front of the customers and to prove to them that they also care about the society and the customers well being. To fulfill this criterion and to make the customers understand that Marks and Spencer also is not just a profit oriented organization, they launched this corporate social responsibility campaign.

However, speaking very practically, the only purpose was to advertise, give a boost to the corporate image and to gain the sympathy of the consumers and get into their good books. This campaign was also integrated with the future plans of Marks and Spencer which makes the marketing communication even more strong because even their plans and future promotion campaigns are based on the same concept of ethics, corporate social responsibility and providing the customers with the right thing. The change plan that Marks and Spencer has for 2020 is what is being integrated to put emphasis on ethics.

They connect this behavior to ethics and believe that in doing so they are respecting the business ethics and also the ethics of the society. Considering the tools of marketing, this time all the tools were not very well integrated. This campaign was generally very successful but if we talk about integrated marketing, then it was not very smartly done. The products did not reflect anything related to the society good; the TV ads were only focused on the product but nothing about social responsibility.

The only two things that were integreated was the slogan “doing the right thing” and the change plan that was being formulated. The good for society bit did not reflect a lot in the stores or the TV ads etc. The proper tool for this campaign would have been public relations; this is so because such messages if delivered by conversation between the public and the company representative directly in an address and speech sound much more real and authentic.

Passing statements to the press is not as effective as holding a seminar or something that induces direct conversation with the public. But, Marks and Spencer did not pay a lot of attention to that and not a lot of focus was given to this tool. Also, this was not launched worldwide; it only began from the UK and took very long for it to reach the other countries. The success of that is unknown.

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In conclusion, we can say that Marks and Spencer does understand the concept of integrated marketing communication but it still needs to make sure his concept is applied in all their campaigns because it really helps in putting across a stronger message. This is so because if the customer is hearing the same thing from all mediums, the message fits into ones head better and deeper. They did apply this concept in one of their campaigns, but if they do that with all campaigns, their marketing can be even better (Wernick, 1991).

Marketing Campaign of a Product of Marks and Spencer

Marketing strategy is the course of action to follow to market the product in the market; it determines how to use the company’s resources and to divert them in a direction that results in maximum consumer satisfaction, leading to an increase in sales. It is the strategic planning that decides upon the target market, market segmentation, positioning and even the marketing mix and other key decisions.

Marketing is a phenomenon that is very well planned, strategized and formulated. The success depends on the implementation of the ideas. This step by step development of the marketing plan includes a marketing mix step. Marketing mix is the blend of a few factors that merge together to form the perfect tool with which one can aim its target market. This mix includes: place, product, price and promotion. Product means the marketing offering, whether goods or services, that one is selling.

Price is the cost of one’s good or service at which it is being sold to the consumers. Place accounts for the location of the sale; the geographical setting and site. Lastly, promotion is the medium of advertisement that the producer uses to promote his product to the market; they can be point of sales marketing, direct marketing, above the line or below the line marketing etc. When all four of these are given equal attention to and made to fit perfectly in accordance with the kind of market that the producer is targeting, the product is sure to sell out really quickly (Varey, 2002).

There are several tools of promotion; this includes direct marketing, advertising, personal selling, sales promotion and public relations. When all these four tools are used together in appropriate ratios, or a mix of these are used to promote a product, it is called a promotional mix. The mix is chosen and the tools are picked according to the product that the company is selling and whatever that is the most appropriate according to the situation is then chosen.

Advertisement is the form of promotion that involved indirect communication between the customer and the organization and is very direct; this includes TV ads, print ads, billboard ads, magazines, internet, radio etc. There are three kinds of advertisements; informational, reminder or persuasive. Informational just has information in the ad; simple facts are communicated to the customers and they are left alone to make the decisions based on that.

Advertising is done using an identified sponsor using a non-personal medium or presentation of a concept, product or service. Advertising is of two sorts – above the line and below the line. Above the line is such that it can be easily seen and is very much exposed to the customers. Simply put, the promotion that is done through mass media such as television, radio, internet is above the line; the customers are indifferent to it and a large audience is being targeted at the same time instead of particularly a segment.

The products that I have chosen to market are the ‘furniture care products’. These include: furniture polish, furniture wipes, lavender furniture cream, lavender furniture polish, multi surface polish, naturally derived furniture wipes etc.

Reminder is for brands that are already well established and needs no advertisement or messages to be put across; for example, coke is such a strong brand and the customers do not need to be reminded that coke is a beverage etc. Lastly, persuasive; these ads are very strategic and are used to convince the customers that this is the brand that is needed by them and to instill the idea of feeling the need to buy the product. Comparative advertisement is used when the brands are aggressively competing and marketing against each other. The approach that I will be using is the informational approach (Kotler, 1996).

Advertisement has various tools that the companies use – these are called the ‘appeals’; advertisement can be used to target the audience in mainly 2 appeals; rational or emotional. If a brand forms an emotional attachment through the advertisement with the customer, then the relation and the loyalty of the customer is very strong. The feeling or reliability and trust plus credibility then come in. Rational, as the name suggests, is very sensible – if the customer feels that he/she needs the product to fulfill a requirement, then they purchase it. The appeal that I have chosen for this advertisement campaign is rational; the customers should buy what they see and what works for them.

There are several ways in which a message from an advertisement can be executed. These execution styles are: slice of life (connecting the product to everyday life and how it is of use), musical (forming a jingle or song around it), moody (show different moods and emotions), testimonial (use the endorsement of happy users to make the future customers believe its credibility), scientific evidence (showing the features and the efficiency of the technical details of the product) and lastly, and the most widely used is the celebrity endorsement (taking a celebrity in the ads). The style of execution that I have chosen is the scientific evidence and celebrity endorsement.

The kind of product that we are advertising is produced using various chemicals which can either ruin your furniture or can make it amazingly beautiful. People who understand the entire furniture technicalities are interested in knowing how the product is made and they also have a sense of what chemicals are good and what are not; thus, disclosing the ingredients used is a good idea. It is true that those who do not know anything about such material will be confused, but our target market is not those people. We are mostly selling this product to people who are either furniture designers or own furniture shops.

However, this may just cut down on a lot of customers who are not aware of technical details but still want their furniture to be maintained and have a longer life. Therefore, with the scientific evidence, we can use celebrities to endorse the product so that it can be much more relatable for them.

Since Marks and Spencer is present in around 30 countries and every country has a different culture, depending upon which people like to choose their furniture. Therefore, it is evident that furniture designers and interior decorators for each region are different. Therefore, although the advertisement campaign will have the same scientific information throughout the globe, the celebrity endorsement will be different for all countries depending on the popular furniture designer of that region (Kilbourne, 2000).

The advertisement mediums that will be used are: television (with frequency of the ads increasing during the household shows such as interior décor, cooking shows where our target audience is usually in concentration), magazine ads (especially, home décor magazines), newspaper ads, internet ads (especially on websites related to furniture and home décor) and also billboard ads.

Although, exhibitions are not part of advertisement as it is a direct medium (Bove and Johnson; 2000), but it is suggested that if an entire campaign is being run for these products, then exhibitions can be held at furniture stores. These exhibitions would mean that Marks and Spencer representative will demonstrate the usage and results of usage of these products. This will enable the customers to see the direct result of the products and will increase the credibility.

Planning is of no use if the implementation is not strong enough. Plans can be awesome but if they are not implemented properly, everything can turn into a mess and the product that is being advertised can bring in loss instead of profits. Therefore, implementation should be worked upon and if it is systematically executed, then this advertising campaign can surely be successful and earn a fortune for Mark and Spencer.

Bibliography

Bitner, M.J. (1995), “Building service relationships: it’s all about promises”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 23 pp.246-51.

Bove, L.L., Johnson, L.W. (2000), “A customer-service worker relationship model”, International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 11 No.5, pp.491-511.

Christ, P., (2008). Principles of Marketing. Web.

Czepiel, J.A. (1990), “Managing relationships with customers: a differentiating philosophy of marketing”, in Bowen, D.E., Chase, R.B., Cummings, T.G. (Eds),Service Management Effectiveness, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA, pp.299-323.

Varey, R., (2002); Marketing communication: principles and practice; Published by Routledge, ISBN 0415230403, 9780415230407.

Kotabe, M. and Kristiaan H., (2004); Global Marketing Management, 3rd Edition, John Wiley & Sopns, Inc, publishers, ISBN 0-471-23062-6.

Kotler, P. & Armstrong, (1996); G.Principles of Marketing’; twelfth edition.

Kilbourne, J; (2000); Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, Free Press; 1 edition; ISBN 0684866005.

Small Business Administration, (2008); Advertising Primer. Web.

Wernick, A (1991); “Promotional Culture: Advertising, Ideology and Symbolic Expression (Theory, Culture & Society S.)”, London: Sage Publications Ltd, ISBN 0-8039-8390-5.

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